United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
DONNA A. DIAZ LONG, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
M. Parker United States Magistrate Judge.
Donna A. Diaz Long (“Long”), seeks judicial
review of the final administrative decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security partially denying her
applications for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) for the period from October 24, 2011
through August 8, 2013 under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act. The parties have consented to my jurisdiction.
See ECF Doc. 16. Because the commissioner's
decision is supported by substantial evidence, the final
decision of the commissioner must be AFFIRMED.
applied for disability benefits on October 24, 2011 (Tr. 171,
313) and SSI benefits on April 18, 2012 (Tr. 318). Long
alleged disability based on systemic lupus erythematosus,
fibromyalgia, arthritis, and panic and depressive disorders
(20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)). (Tr. 15)
Long's applications were denied initially on June 14,
2012. (Tr. 171) Long requested a hearing on June 20, 2012.
(Tr. 171) Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Brian
W. Lemoine heard the matter on June 14, 2013, and rendered an
unfavorable decision on September 11, 2013. (Tr. 167) Long
filed a timely request for review of the hearing decision on
October 16, 2013. (Tr. 253) The Appeals Council remanded the
case to the ALJ on March 26, 2015. (Tr. 181) ALJ Renita F.
Barnett-Jefferson heard the matter after remand on August 19,
2015. (Tr. 33) ALJ Barnett-Jefferson found Long was not
disabled prior to August 9, 2013, but became disabled under
sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social
Security Act on her 55th birthday on August 9,
2013. (Tr. 23)
now raises three arguments: (1) the ALJ erred in weighing the
opinion of treating physician John D. Morgan, Jr., M.D.; (2)
the ALJ erred by not assessing Long's capacities for
sitting, standing, walking, and lifting on a
function-by-function basis; and (3) the ALJ erred by only
including the limitation in the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) that Long “would need the use of a
cane for walking to and from the worksite” (Tr. 16-17).
See ECF. Doc. 14, Page ID# 877. Because the issues
Long has raised are limited, it is not necessary to summarize
the entire record.
Relevant Personal, Educational, and Vocational
was 57 years old on the date of the most recent hearing. (Tr.
36) Long completed high school and took online college
courses, but did not complete a degree. (Tr. 18, 357) Her
past work experience included work as a magazine customer
service representative, secretary, and telemarketer. (Tr.
April 22, 2010, Long had her initial visit with C.P. Solomon,
MD regarding her widespread arthralgia, ASCVD with a history
of stroke, TIA, stress, epigastric pain with ulcers, and
fibrocystic breast disease. (Tr. 493) Dr. Solomon noted
Long's muscle strength and tone and her gait were normal.
(Id.) Dr. Solomon wrote an undated letter in which
he stated he has been treating Long for systemic lupus
“erythematosis.” (Tr. 492)
30, 2010, Keith W. Weaver, M.D. evaluated Long. (Tr. 481)
Long reported “trouble” with her shoulder and
elbow that extended into her hand. (Id.) Dr. Weaver
found Long had full motion of her neck, including flexion,
extension, rotation, and lateral bends. (Id.) Dr.
Weaver found that any motion about her right shoulder was
painful. (Id.) Dr. Weaver found she had good power
on abduction and external rotation on the left.
(Id.) Dr. Waver found Long was able to stand on her
heels and toes and could squat and arise fairly well.
(Id.) X-rays of Long's neck showed a
degenerative cervical disk, without posterior spurring, at
¶ 5-6 and x-rays of her right shoulder showed no obvious
fractures, dislocations, or other pathology. (Id.)
Dr. Weaver diagnosed subacromial bursitis, right tennis
elbow, and probable other tendinopathies. (Id.) Dr.
Weaver injected Long's subacromial bursa with Lidocaine
and Celestone. (Id.)
14, 2010, Dr. Weaver evaluated Long regarding her complaints
of neck, right shoulder, left shoulder, and right elbow pain.
(Tr. 479) Dr. Weaver noted Long had fairly good motion in her
right shoulder, negative impingement, and tenderness of her
proximal extensor origin. (Id.) Dr. Weaver injected
Long's proximal extensor origin in her right elbow with
Lidocaine and Celestone. (Id.)
October 14, 2010, Dr. Solomon evaluated Long regarding her
chronic pain. (Tr. 490) Dr. Solomon noted Long had bilateral
pain at her pressure points and he believed Long had
fibromyalgia. (Id.) Dr. Solomon prescribed Long
Trazodone and Lyrica, and continued her treatment with
Protonix and Plavix. (Id.) Dr. Solomon noted
Long's muscle strength and tone were normal and her gait
was without abnormality. (Id.)
February 21, 2011, Dr. Weaver evaluated Long's condition.
(Tr. 477) Long complained of multiple joints, including her
shoulders, elbows, neck, back, and right hip. (Id.)
She reported pain in her right hip that radiated into her leg
and calf that had started four or five weeks prior to her
appointment. (Id.) Dr. Weaver noted Long was able to
walk with a mild limp and squat “fair, but not
fully.” (Id.) Long's straight leg raising
was negative while seated and Dr. Weaver found tenderness
over Long's right and some on her left greater
trochanter. (Id.) X-rays of Long's pelvis and
hips showed well-maintained joint space. (Id.)
April 15, 2011, Dr. Solomon evaluated Long for a follow-up
regarding her chronic problems including fibromyalgia,
arthritis, stress, fibrocystic breast disease, and epigastric
pain. (Tr. 488) Dr. Solomon noted that Long's muscle
strength and tone were normal and her gait was without
2, 2011, x-rays of Long's right hip showed that her hip
was located normally, there was no evidence of fracture or
dislocation, and the interpreting physician found no acute
right hip abnormality. (Tr. 523) X-rays of Long's femur
taken the same day showed her osseous alignment was normal
with no fracture, dislocation, or acute abnormality. (Tr.
October 28, 2011, an emergency physician at the Princeton
Baptist Medical Center evaluated Long for pain in her right
shoulder, hip, and leg. (Tr. 512) Long reported chronic pain
in her leg, calf, neck, and back. (Id.) Long also
reported that her pain medications had been stolen. (Tr. 512,
Karl Kirkland, Ph.D. - Consultative Psychological
Kirkland, Ph.D. performed a psychological evaluation of Long
on May 18, 2012. (Tr. 539) Although it is not necessary to
discuss Dr. Kirkland's opinions concerning Long's
psychological condition in order to address the issues Long
has raised in this appeal, it is important to note that Long
told Dr. Kirkland that she had walked approximately half a
mile from the bus stop to Kirkland's office for her
Ilene Stone, M.D. - Consultative Examiner
April 29, 2013, Ilene Stone, M.D. performed an internal
medicine examination of Long. (Tr. 549) Long complained of
generalized pain located in her shoulders, arms, hands, hips,
thighs, buttocks, legs, and calves that began in February of
2010. (Id.) She reported she was diagnosed with
systemic lupus erythematosus and fibromyalgia in August of
2010. (Id.) Long reported her pain intensity was
seven out of ten at best and ten out of ten at worst.
(Id.) Long reported she had taken Lyrica, Lortab,
Plaquenil, and prednisone but had stopped taking her
medications and experienced a marked increase in her pain and
decrease in her ability to do self-care. (Id.) Long
stated her pain increased with reaching, making sudden
movements, standing for more than twenty minutes, sitting,
lying in one position, bending, lifting, cold weather,
walking, and wearing clothing. (Id.)
reported she did not do cooking, cleaning, laundry, or
shopping due to problems standing and pain in her hands,
arms, and legs. (Tr. 550) Long stated she showered every
other day and dressed herself with help. (Id.) Long
stated she watched television and read. (Id.)
Stone noted Long's stance was normal and her gait was
antalgic and favored her right lower extremity. (Tr. 551) Dr.
Stone found Long could not walk on heels and toes or squat.
(Id.) Dr. Stone noted Long used a cane for pain
outdoors that had been prescribed by a doctor and was
medically necessary. (Id.) Dr. Stone noted Long was
able to change her clothes for the exam, get on and off the
exam table, and rise from a chair without difficulty.
Stone found Long exhibited negative straight leg raise in the
seated position, but positive in the supine position. (Tr.
552) Long had full range of motion in her elbows, forearms,
wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, but limited range of motion
in her shoulders. (Id.) Long's joints were
stable, but Dr. Stone noted tenderness in Long's feet,
knees, thoracic and lower lumbosacral spine and paraspinals,
supraspinatus muscles, scapula, shoulders, elbows, lateral
aspects of the hips, SI joints, sciatic notches, and hands.
(Id.) Dr. Stone did not find any subluxations,
contractures, ankyloses, thickening, redness, heat, swelling,
or effusion. (Id.) Dr. Stone found Long had full
range of motion in both hands, but her grip strength was
limited by pain. (Id.) Long was able to zip, button,
and tie, but her dexterity was limited due to pain.
Stone diagnosed Long with systemic lupus erythematosus,
fibromyalgia, hypertension, and a history of palpitations,
seizures, depression, cerebrovascular accident, multiple
transient ischemic attacks, and asthma. (Id.) Long
indicated she had not been taking the medications prescribed
to treat her conditions. (Tr. 550)
medical source statement regarding Long's physical
capacity, Dr. Stone found Long could lift or carry up to 10
lbs. frequently, 11 to 20 lbs. occasionally, and never lift
or carry 21 or more lbs. based on the: noted tenderness in
Long's knees, shoulders, hips, and other joints; limited
range of motion in Long's shoulders; Long's use of a
cane for ambulation; and her inability to walk on toes and
heels. (Tr. 555) Dr. Stone found Long could sit for two
hours, stand for twenty minutes, and walk for thirty minutes
without interruption. (Id.) In an eight-hour work
day, Dr. Stone found Long could sit, stand, or walk for five
hours. (Id.) Dr. Stone found it was medically
necessary for Long to use a cane to ambulate, but that Long
could use her free hand to carry small objects. (Tr. 555) Dr.
Stone noted Long used her cane in the entire examination.
(Id.) Dr. Stone found Long could use her hands to
handle, finger, and feel frequently, reach and push/pull
occasionally, but never to reach overhead based on the
limited range of motion in Long's shoulders and decreased
grip strength. (Tr. 556) Dr. Stone found Long could only
occasionally use her feet to operate foot controls due to the
pain and tenderness in her knees. (Id.) Dr. Stone
found Long could occasionally climb stairs and ramps, but
could never climb ladders or scaffolds, balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, or crawl. (Tr. 557) Dr. Stone found Long could
occasionally tolerate vibrations, but could never tolerate
exposure to unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts,
operating a motor vehicle, humidity and wetness, dust, odors,
fumes, or pulmonary irritants, or extreme temperatures. (Tr.
medical source statement, Dr. Stone opined Long could not
shop, use standard public transportation, or walk a block at
a reasonable pace on rough or uneven surfaces. (Tr. 559) Dr.
Stone opined Long could travel without a companion for
assistance, ambulate without using a wheelchair, walker, or
two canes or crutches, climb a few steps using a handrail,
prepare a simple meal and feed herself, care for her personal
hygiene, and sort, handle, or use papers or files.
M. Tosi Gilford, M.D. - State Agency Reviewing
6, 2012, state agency reviewing physician M. Tosi Gilford,
M.D. issued an RFC assessment of Long's physical
capacity. (Tr. 140-42) Dr. Gilford found Long could lift
and/or carry 20 lbs. occasionally and 10 lbs. frequently.
(Tr. 140) Dr. Gilford found Long could stand and/or walk or
sit with normal breaks for a total of six hours in an
eight-hour workday. (Id.) He found Long had
unlimited ability to push and/or pull, other than the
limitations on her ability to lift and/or carry. (Tr. 141) He
found Long could climb ramps or stairs, balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, or crawl occasionally, but could never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. (Id.) Dr. Gilford
found Long must: avoid concentrated exposure to cold, heat,
wetness, humidity, and vibrations; avoid all exposure to
hazards; but could handle unlimited exposure to noise, fumes,
odors, dusts, gasses, and poor ventilation. (Id.)
Dr. Gilford opined Long must avoid unprotected heights,
hazardous machinery, uneven terrain like curbs or uneven
pavement, hazardous situations, and wet, slippery, or icy
surfaces. (Tr. 142)
Morgan, Jr. M.D. - Treating Rheumatologist
physician John Morgan, Jr. M.D. prepared a voluntary benefits
disability claim form for Long on July 19, 2011. (Tr. 496)
Dr. Morgan noted Long had reported diffuse pain that required
ambulation with a crutch. (Id.) Dr. Morgan stated
that Long's limited range of motion, allodynia, and
hyperpathia support his diagnosis. (Id.) Dr. Morgan
planned to treat Long with rest, exercise, physical therapy,
and medications, including Lyrica and Lortab, but the medical
record did not specify the type of physical therapy. (Tr.
497). Dr. Morgan opined that Long could occasionally sit, but
never stand or walk. (Id.) He found Long could
occasionally perform fine finger movements or hand eye
coordinated movements, but could never push or pull.
(Id.) Dr. Morgan opined that Long could never climb,
twist, bend, stoop, reach above shoulder level, or operate
heavy machinery. (Id.) He found Long could
occasionally lift 10 lbs., but could never lift over 10 lbs.
(Id.) Dr. Morgan opined Long should not do
repetitive hand and foot actions, and could never walk, bend,
or stoop. (Tr. 498) Dr. Morgan opined that he did not support
Long's return to work “within the restrictions and
limitations [he had] provided” and stated he had not
determined when he expected improvement in Long's
physical capacity. (Id.)
initial June 14, 2013 ALJ hearing, Long testified, in
relevant part, as follows: (Tr. 77-129)
• She was 54 at the time of the hearing. (Tr. 82)
• She obtained a high school diploma, and had undergone
clerical, entrepreneur, grant writing, and job related
training. (Tr. 82)
• She became disabled on June 21, 2011, when she could
no longer work as a patient care secretary at Baptist Health
Center Princeton. (Tr. 83-85)
• She lived with her sister and niece and stayed in the
living room of a two-bedroom apartment. (Tr. 85)
• She stated her work as a patient care secretary in a
surgery unit involved typing, filing, supplies, telephones,
charting, liaison work, and included lifting and carrying.
• She testified she left her last job because she
started experiencing pain in her shoulders, hips, arms,
hands, fingers, and legs and she had to limit her movement
and rely on the support of other staff. (Tr. 89)
• She got her cane in 2011, and she used it to get up
from chairs, walk, and balance. (Tr. 89, 99, 101)
• She had used crutches in 2010 due to immobility in her
hips that cause her to fall ...